Homebuyer Credit Extended, Unemployment Rear-Ended

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A homebuyer tax credit was extended and a bill to continue unemployment benefits failed as the federal government looks for creative ways to pass parts of the stalled Senate jobs bill.

The House of Representatives passed a measure yesterday that will allow homebuyers already in the process of purchasing their first home to get an $8,000 federal income tax credit.

In a vote of 409 to 5, the House extended the closing deadline for homebuyers who signed a contract on their new home to before the original tax credit eligibility deadline of April 30. These homebuyers now have until Sept. 30 to close on their home.

"Up to 180,000 homebuyers will now receive the tax credit they deserve, and our housing market will be strengthened as a result," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a prepared statement.

The homebuyer tax credit extension was originally part of the larger job bill that has stalled in the Senate over cost concerns. While the House was able to pass this measure, another bill that would extend unemployment benefits for those out of work longer than 26 weeks was defeated by a vote of 261-155.

The legislation would have extended benefits to those unemployed for long stretches through November and retroactively restored unemployment payments to those who lost them in May when the original bill including the extension failed to pass. The new version, which was brought up by Democrats as an emergency measure allowing for no amendments and limited debate, failed as it would still add $34 billion to the federal deficit.

House Democrats plan to reintroduce the bill under regular business next Wednesday. Additionally, according to the Associated Press, the Senate is simulataneously planning to combine the homebuyer tax credit extension and the restoration of the expired unemployment benefits in their own legislation.

Earlier this week, a bill to postpone cuts to physicians’ Medicare payments (another former proponent of the stalled Senate bill) was signed into law by President Obama, having successfully passed the House and the Senate.

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